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Old 05-18-2014   #11
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
We are headed out to do the John Day next week. It's not very challenging, but the camping and fishing is pretty good. If the Owyhee was running, I'd tell you to do Rome to Leslie Gulch, but it's not. The Grande Ronde was a little too far away for us this season, and I hear it's not much of a challenge.
I think the Rogue is the best challenge with reasonable risk encountered. Blossom Bar almost ate my ass last season. I was in a pretty loaded 14' raft with one Dud of a guy on the front of my boat. We made a clean pass through the picket fence, and then I managed to get hung up on what I think is called Volkswagon rock. I managed not to pin, or flip. The action doesn't really let up until you are below Devil's staircase.
Good luck, whatever you choose, and have a great time.

Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 05-19-2014   #12
jakebrown98's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 165
You're getting some real good advice from the folks here; I hope you heed it.

I can't say enough that you need to earn a bit more experience before you lead a trip down the Rogue. Rogue permits outside of summer are easy to get. There are a lot of good deals on used bucket boats right now--just check Craigslist. You do not need a fancy setup--just get you some old rubber and drive it downstream some. Be patient; the rivers aren't going anywhere.

Video scouting is a lot of fun, but the most it will tell you is what type of move you need to make. It will not tell you how to make it. If you're not practiced, even an in the flesh scout won't do you a lot of good. Sure, you could probably bounce your way down the Rogue without killing anyone. Probably. But chances are better than half that you will at the least need some sort of rescue assistance from other boaters at some point. I try not to impose on other groups in this fashion, and I always try not to take the people who are depending on me for their lives into situations that are completely outside of my experience.

The Lower K is a great choice. Curly Jack is a great base camp. You can work your way up the ladder of difficulty. Rattlesnake has big holes and can easily flip or dump you. Dragon's Tooth is mean, give it due respect. When you wrap your boat around the Tooth and finish the easy swim in safety, be happy you don't have to deal with 500lbs of camping gear plastered on the rock or floating downstream. Be happy you and your peeps don't have to swim though all the rocks of the picket fence. Be happy the road is nearby.

My first time rowing Blossom I had been rowing for a while. I'd rowed a half dozen different class IV runs and one easy class V rapid. I had been briefed and followed a guy who was a pro. About halfway down we came across another group that was in the process of finishing up a rescue. One of their kayakers had broken his femur... The guy lived, but he might not have.

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Old 05-19-2014   #13
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
I was lucky to learn the lines at Blossom Bar in a guide school. Plenty of theory and practice and tips before the Rogue graduation multiday run with Blossom being at the end. If at all possible I recommend you get training for more than a day and at best running Blossom with some one who knows it well and is a good instructor. My opinion here for what it is worth. A lot of rapids end up with the critical move being the entry and then powering down maybe avoiding a hole or so. Blossom Bar to me is a series of critical timing, power application and having your boat finish one move in a good setup for the next. Easy to get excited and over power your move. The first critical move is at the top followed by the little chute then you got to miss VW rock with a decision left or right. Plenty of opportunities to hang up on rocks just below the surface along the way. Don't start the celebration till you miss the big hole at the bottom and hit the flat water. The best way to learn the moves on Blossom is to make a run with some one who knows the moves, then get you on the oars to get the "feel" of the moves down. As has been mentioned before Blossom is a fairly complex series of moves and the position, timing and power is gonna be different depending on the raft and load involved. I spend a lot of winter time looking at Blossom Bar video runs. The best boat men and women make it look easy but it really is their experience with the moves that makes it look so easily run. Videos can help you figure out boat positions but not the feel on the oars. Having said all the above the Rogue and especially Blossom Bar is at the top of my list of fun multidays and rapids I have run. I envy you living close enough to run the Rogue multiple times. As was mentioned before, the river will be there for you to run many times. Take your time and enjoy it!
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Old 05-19-2014   #14
TriBri1's Avatar
Tigard, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 768
For alternate runs I would also lean towards the North Umpqua. You can basecamp and any number of camps int he area. There are two very nice III-IV stretches. You can run them back to back for a long day trip. Great mountain biking and reward yourself with a hike up to the Umpqua hot springs.
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Old 05-19-2014   #15
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
Plus one for using the Umpqua as a training run.

Easy to do multiple runs, plenty of tight moves and water quality that is outstanding.

Easy to camp and do the runs until the moves on the oars become second nature.
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Old 05-19-2014   #16
Ashlandistan, Oregon
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 64

+1 on the N.Umpqua as great place to hone your rowing and paddle boating skills. I think that is the best place in N.Cal and So.OR to dial it up. Lots of shake and bake water. Also, the hot springs a great bonus. Camp at Horseshoe to be in the middle of two fun runs. Or, Boulder flat to be at the put in of the upper run and closer to the hot springs. But, it is car based camping and not a downriver experience.
Lots of folks chiming in about the Lower Klamath. It is a great place to be and depending on the stretch could be a good choice to get the feel of rowing a loaded gear boat and learning some paddle guide skills. From what I am reading you want excitement, but you want to stay safe. Those are both relative things and hard to achieve to everyone's satisfaction. I would recommend putting in Sluice Box and taking out at Independence Bridge. That way you avoid Dragon's Tooth until you get more experience rowing heavier boats and cleaning up raft carnage. You still get the downriver trip.
The Lower Rogue is not the place to have someone self learn to paddle captain a raft, or row heavier gear boats for the first time. Your experience rowing on Nugget/Powerhouse is great, but does not really relate at all to moves that need to be made, or reads, on the Lower Rogue, especially with the weight.
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Old 05-19-2014   #17
Creswell, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 67
Most people that don't make it at Blossom Bar either die from a heart attack or foot entrapment. If you end up on the Rogue doing Blossom Bar, wear a helmet, take your aspirin for the day and if anybody goes out, keep your feet up. Do not put them down unless you are in an eddy or out of the current!
During permit season, there are usually people scouting Blossom Bar from river right. Stop there and watch a few rafts go through first. You might even find an experienced rafter there that would take your boat through for you, if you so wanted.
My first time down the Rouge I found lots of good advice and how to's from other people on the river. I took a paddle boat, four other people and all their gear for three days. Learned a lot that trip. First lesson was to go river right at Rainy Falls. We went left. The raft made it through the falls with all our gear just fine, but we all swam. I ended up with a cracked rib, but we had such a great time that I now have done the Rogue at least fourty times.

By the way: Seven days without kayaking makes one week( weak?).
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Old 05-19-2014   #18
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 4
Thanks everyone. We've changed our plans to the lower Klamath. N Umpqua looks great too, I will definitely keep that in mind. We'll save the Rogue for another time.
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Old 05-19-2014   #19
Somewhere in, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 64
Originally Posted by Wadeinthewater View Post
Rowing a raft loaded with gear for 8 people on a multi-day trip will be much different than what you have practiced....
I know that you have already moved on from the rogue but this is your biggest hurdle. Rowing gear is much different then pushing and empty raft around the river. You have to set up for rapids a lot earlier than you think. As far as the paddle boat. If you have a good committed crew they usually figure it out by the time you get to blossom with a good paddle captain (been there).

Hit the NUMP and have a great time. That river is awesome for day trips and camping.
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Old 05-19-2014   #20
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 559
Originally Posted by IlikeRivers View Post
I'd love to hear some more alternatives that would be a safer, yet still exciting, 3-day trip.
N Umpqua - Car camping at Horseshoe Bend which is away from the highway. Good day trips above and below there with good whitewater and scenery.

John Day (Service Creek to Clarno) - I think Clarno to Cottonwood would be to far for you allotted time. Too early for bass fishing but good river camps and scenery. You might still be able to get a permit.

Grande Ronde (Minam to Powatka or Troy) - A good 3 day trip with scenery and wildlife. No significant whitewater but continuous. Great camping.

Real adventure is only one bad decision away.
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